TV Versus Search -- When A Disruptive Brand Tries Both

Jim Leichenko, director of marketing at Kantar Media, views Robinhood as an innovator -- not the Disney character Robin Hood who robs from the rich and gives to the poor, but the free-trading app that allows investors to trade stock without commissions or fees.

I never heard of Robinhood the app until Kantar brought this data to my attention. It turns out Robinhood spent $8 million on cable television advertising after not spending any money on television advertising in 2018.

The $8 million is roughly the equivalent to T Rowe Price’s 2019 TV ad expenditure, $8.3 million, but far less than the top three TV advertisers. Chase spent $45.7 million, Fidelity spent $42.1 million, and E Trade spent $37.2 million in 2019.

“There’s a constant need to innovate,” Leichenko said. “Not only to head off rivals, but to follow consumer habits as they change.”

Robinhood’s ads ran on cable television against all types of TV shows, such as MTV, which are aimed toward younger generations, to the reruns of "Law In Order," Leichenko said.



“We’ve seen the company advertise in previous years, but not with much strength,” he said. “We really saw their paid search efforts pick up in May, but the strongest months were June through November.”

Within paid-search advertising, Leichenko said Robinhood had an even greater impact, placing third with 8.3% click share on 65 investment-related keywords like “how to buy stocks.”

E Trade Financial and TD Ameritrade ranked first and second in the category, garnering 17.6% and 16.1% of clicks, respectively.

Robinhood was less successful within mobile search, ranking No. 13 with a 1.5% click share on the 65 keywords in 2019.

Since I personally never heard of Robinhood, when I think of commission-free trading, Fidelity or TD Ameritrade come to mind. Calling Robinhood a disrupter, Leichenko said the company started the trend of commission-free trading.


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